The Man Who Fell Out of the Bed

Video credits: Nathan Brown

Would you believe me if I told you there was once a case of a young man who was admitted to a hospital for some tests and at night suddenly fell out of his bed?

Of course you would.

What if, this time, I told you the young man refused to go back to his bed and told the doctor that he had a feeling of a “lazy left leg and also the leg wasn’t his but someone else’s?

Probably it would be hard for you to believe me this time. If not hard at least you’re confused.

The case is real and talked about by Dr Oliver Sacks in his famous book “The Man Who Mistook his wife for a Hat”. Dr Oliver Sacks was a neurologist and an author. He had spent almost 50 years working as a neurologist and wrote many books including The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, Musicophilia, Awakenings and Hallucinations among many others. The New York Times referred to him as ‘the poet laureate of medicine’. He was well known for his series of non-fictional books on interesting cases in psychiatry and neurology.

The Case

As mentioned before, this interesting case is of a young man who came to a hospital for some tests. While asleep at night, he woke up all of a sudden. He had expressions of anger, alarm, bewilderment and amusement. Dr Sacks was still a medical student at that time and he was called in immediately. The patient complained that his left leg felt lazy and it wasn’t his leg at all. It belonged to someone else. He complained of his own leg as ‘a severed leg, a horrible thing!’ After some time he realized what had actually happened and said: it was all a joke!! He further said that it was a New Year’s Eve and half the staff was drunk. He was confident about one of the nurses stealing a leg and slipping it under his bedclothes while he was fast asleep. He got so angry that he started seizing it with both hands. He tried to tear it off his body but failed every time. He kept denying that it was his leg and when asked where would be his own leg be then, he said, “I don’t know. I have no idea. It’s disappeared. It’s gone. It’s nowhere to be found…”

What actually happened?

Recent research especially in neurology has a diagnosis of the case. It’s called “parietal ataxic hemiparesis”. It is believed this happens when there is damage to the right parietal lobe in the brain. The parietal lobes are located behind the frontal lobes and above the temporal lobes and are responsible for processing the sensory information, understanding spatial orientation and body awareness.

Parietal ataxic hemiparesis is considered to be a very rare condition. In some cases it has been seen that anti-epileptic drugs are effective in remedying the symptoms. Rehabilitation has also proven to be helpful in alleviating the symptoms where a combination of physical and mental exercises are used. 

Human brain is very complex. It is full of mysteries. There is a lot that gets governed by our brains that we don’t even know about. But after reading about such interesting cases I realize how far we have come with our understanding on human brain.

Stop Misusing OCD: Myths about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Picture credits: ADDitude

In this modern world, we are suffering from different types of mental health issues that are disrupting our personal, social and work lives. And OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is one such mental health issue that affects about 1.2 percent of the Americans (American Psychiatric Association).

But what is OCD and what are the misconceptions that people have about this particular disorder.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a type of an anxiety disorder which is characterized by having unwanted and recurring thoughts, referred to as obsessions, which forces an individual to act on them repetitively, referred to as compulsions. We all suffer from having unwanted thoughts. We all have recurring thoughts too about something or the other and many times such thoughts compel us to act upon them. However, things are a little different for people suffering from OCD. They have these obsessions and want to have a control over them but they can’t. They know well that their thoughts are not making any sense but they can do nothing to stop themselves from having them and acting upon them. Things get out of their hands to such an extent that their obsessions and compulsions start to mess up with their personal, social and work life. Fortunately there are different treatments that one can seek and get better with time.

What’s worrisome is that people have misunderstood this particular mental health issue and let some myths take control over their level of understanding. And it is very important that these myths should be debunked.

3 Common Myths about OCD

MYTH 1: If you are meticulous, you have OCD

Some people are very punctilious. They work with a lot of precision. Even I like precision and want to do every task with perfection (although I know well enough perfection doesn’t exist). But that does not mean such meticulous people have OCD. Being precise with everything is one of their personality traits. It doesn’t mean that they have impulses and compulsions to act upon them. So before you go out and call someone having OCD based on their orderliness, make sure you don’t pick up on myths anymore.

MYTH 2: If you are washing hands many times or like things hygienic, you have OCD

A lot of people believe that OCD is all about washing hands many times and keeping things neat and tidy. While it is true that many people with OCD have one of the obsessions where they believe their hands are dirty and feel compelled to wash them 20 times in an hour; it is not the end of the story. Obsessions can be of different kinds including fear of close ones dying, fear of harming themselves or loved ones, fear of committing a sin or crime, etc. Many people have obsessions where they believe they haven’t locked their almirah locks or haven’t turned off gas stove. As a result, keep checking them compulsively many many times in a day.

MYTH 3: People with OCD should learn to have some control over their thoughts

Stigma is very common among mental disorders or psychopathology. People never miss on any opportunity to teach the sufferers that they need to be bold and take control over things. They must not act weak anymore. Such sentient beings make it all sound so relaxing as if it all so easy. It is not easy to let go off the obsessions. It is not easy to stop acting upon intrusive thoughts altogether. There are a lot of factors playing their part: changes in brain’s chemistry due to imbalances in neurotransmitters, triggers in the environment, cultural background, interpersonal relationships, etc. That is why it is not so easy for people suffering from OCD to simply have control over their thoughts.

Mental Health problems are never easy: both for the person suffering and people who are closed ones. That is why it is of utmost importance that we get to the facts and seek professional help and not get wrapped around misconceptions and myths.